KCC 'trailblazer' for Family Hubs programme

Family Hub

KCC is delighted to have been designated by the Department for Education as one of only 14 “trailblazer” councils in the government’s Family Hubs project which is intended to provide support to families and young children to help them overcome difficulties and build strong relationships.

The announcement on Thursday (9 February) also brings a one-off grant of £183,000 towards initial work on formulating details on the precise plans, as well as access to more than £10 million transformation funding for implementing them over the next two years.

A total of 75 local authorities have been given government approval for the Family Hubs scheme, but of these only 14 have been given “trailblazer” status. These trailblazers will lead the way and support other local authorities to improve services that are offered to families, so that these can be rolled out more widely across the country.

This announcement builds on the Prime Minister’s ambition to put strong families at the heart of communities, in recognition of how important they are for residents’ life chances.

The new hubs will offer support from conception through to age 19, or up to 25 for children with special education needs and disabilities.  DfE have outlined their three main priorities through the ‘Best Start For Life’ programme, these are perinatal mental health, infant feeding and parental support.

The funding will provide thousands of families with access to support when they need it, including helping to give babies the best start in life, as set out in ‘Best Start for Life: a vision for the critical 1,001 days’ led by Dame Andrea Leadsom, which sets out six action areas to improve support for families between pregnancy and children up to the age of two.

Parents will also be able to access a range of support through the hubs from midwifery to mental health support, health visiting and infant feeding advice. Hubs will also provide early language and communication development for young children to set the foundations for lifelong learning and prepare them for school.

The Family Hub programme will give KCC the opportunity to build on and enhance the existing 0-19 Open Access offer.

The Family Hub funding will help support KCC staff to develop the range of services that will be provided for local residents through co-production and community engagement. KCC is currently consulting on the network of buildings from which services will be delivered in the future, based on the level of need for services across the county. The Family Hubs service will be delivered from specific sites across the county, together with various outreach services, with staff visiting families in their own homes, and improved access to help and advice digitally.

Sue Chandler, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services, said: “Making sure families get the support they need from birth through to adulthood helps with children’s educational attainment and wellbeing, while also helping to combat poor mental health and to avoid unemployment.

“We intend our Family Hubs will bring together a variety of services which are currently disjointed and hard to navigate. Our Family Hubs will act as a single point of support, offering guidance and advice on a range of circumstances including, infant feeding, mental health support, health visits and parenting classes.

“To help us plan our Family Hub provision, we will be consulting widely with all interested parties - parents and carers, other agencies, charities and district councils, so we can decide precisely which services are most required and where they can be located.

“This is a wonderful and unique opportunity to improve the life chances of the children and families of Kent.”